Borax Crystals

My oldest superhero received a crystal making kit for his 4th birthday and we made the crystals in the kit which were just polyacrylamide with some colored water.  The crystals were jiggly and small and dried out pretty quickly.  Since then they have been asking to do it again.  I figured we needed to try something new.  And we did.  And they were awesome!

These are the EASIEST crystals you’ll ever make!  And they are pretty sturdy when they are done!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Borax
  • Hot water (Obviously an adult will be needed to do this part)
  • pyrex measuring cup (one that can withstand hot water)
  • measuring spoons
  • pipecleaners
  • string
  • wide mouth glass jar
  • string
  • stick or pencil

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Give each superhero a pipecleaner and have them bend it into what ever shape they like.  Tie a string to the pipecleaner and then attach to a pencil so that the pencil can rest on the top of the jar  and the pipecleaner can be fully immersed in the jar’s liquid.  Make sure you can easily get the pipecleaner out without bending it since once the crystals form it won’t be so bend-y anymore.

Mix 3 tablespoons of Borax (found in the laundry detergent aisle) with 1 cup of hot water.  Stir until the borax dissolves completely. Each one of our jars held 3 cups of water to completely submerge the peipecleaners (3 cups water = 9 tablespoons Borax)

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I poured the hot borax mixture into the jars and the superheroes dropped the pipecleaners into the jars.  (You might need to do this step if you have really little ones). We set them on the counter with an observation sheet.IMG_1432

Within a few hours we saw the crystals forming but the next morning the superheroes were AMAZED!

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The crystals were big and strong and heavy and required a bit of tugging to get them out of the jars (which is why you should use a wide mouth jar, unlike mine).  These were so pretty!

We made some fun candy cane crystals, snowflake and icicle ornaments for the holidays as well. IMG_4415

*Note of Caution: Borax is toxic if ingested and can irritate eyes.  If you have young children or pets who might ingest a broken particle, you might want to think twice about making these.

The Science behind the Activity:

When dissolving the borax in hot water, you are creating a supersaturated solution which means you are using heat to get more borax to dissolve than you would with water at room temperature.  As the water cools, the borax “falls out of solution” and solidifies (recrystallizes) on the pipecleaner and on the bottom of the jar.

To clean the crystals of the bottom of the jar, just add more hot water and redissolve the borax and then you can pour it out easily.

Follow this link to see where I got the idea from and more details about the experiment: http://childhoodlist.blogspot.com/2013/02/151-borax-crystal-hearts.html

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